The Cost-Effectiveness of Herpes Simplex Virus-2 Suppressive Therapy With Daily Aciclovir for Delaying HIV Disease Progression Among HIV-1-Infected Women in South Africa

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Background:The Partners in Prevention HSV/HIV transmission trial (Partners HSV/HIV Transmission Study) showed that herpes simplex virus-2 (HSV-2) suppressive therapy with daily aciclovir could decrease HIV disease progression amongst HIV-1/HSV-2 coinfected individuals. The cost-effectiveness of daily aciclovir for delaying HIV-1 disease progression in women not eligible for antiretroviral therapy (ART) is estimated.Methods:Resource use/cost data for delivering daily aciclovir at a primary health care HIV clinic were collected in Johannesburg. Effectiveness estimates were obtained from the Partners HSV/HIV Transmission Study trial and epidemiologic data from South Africa. A Markov model simulated the cost-effectiveness of daily aciclovir on HIV-1 disease progression in ART-naive women. Therapy was given to all HIV-1-infected women. Cost-effectiveness was compared against cost per life-year gained (∼US $1200 per LYG) of ART provision in South Africa.Results:For an ART eligibility criteria of CD4 count <200 cells/μL and the cheapest internationally available aciclovir (US $0.026 per day for 2 × 400 mg aciclovir), the median cost per LYG is US $1023 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 537–2842), whereas it decreases to US $737 (95% CI: 373–2489) if the ART eligibility criteria is CD4 count <350 cells/μL. Both these projections compare favorably with the estimated cost-effectiveness of ART in South Africa (∼US $1200 per LYG). The cost per LYG increases dramatically for the current aciclovir cost in South Africa (US $0.14 per day), if salary costs are higher and if HSV-2 prevalence amongst HIV-1-infected women are lower. Projections suggest HSV-2 suppressive therapy could dramatically increase the proportion of women initiating ART.Conclusions:HSV-2 suppressive therapy could be an affordable strategy for reducing HIV-1 disease progression and retaining women in care before ART initiation, but cheaply available aciclovir is needed.

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